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Full text of "My country and my people"

SOCIAL    AND    POLITICAL    LIFE            IQ5
central government, tax collection, maintaining peace and keeping justice, very little came to bother the people. According to the Chinese political philosophy, that government governs best which governs least. It was even so always. The real government of China may be described as a village socialism- And what applies to the village holds true in the general spirit for the town also.
The so-called village or town local government Is invisible. It has no visible body of authority like the mayor or councillors. It is governed really morally by the elders by virtue of their great age, and by the gentry by virtue of their knowledge of law and history. Fundamentally, it is governed by custom and usage, the unwritten law. In case of disputes, the elders or patriarchs are invited to decide the right and wrong of the matter, according, as we have pointed out, not to reason alone but to "human nature and eternal reason" combined. When there are no lawyers It is always easy to find out, especially among parties well known to each other and living under the same social tradition, who is right and who is wrong. The absence of lawyers makes justice possible, and when there is justice there is peace in the human heart. The village gentry are as a class whiter than the town gentry, although their parasitic nature is economically determined. There are good and upright scholars who do not make it their profession to handle lawsuits, and who by their reputation for character and learning share the general respect of the villagers with the elders. Under these elders and scholars the people carry on. When disputes cannot be settled in this manner, as In cases of crime and division of property, or when two parties are determined to fight for face, then they go to the yamen. But It is only when both parties are prepared to ruin themselves, for they avoid the yamen like a plague.
The Chinese people can always govern themselves, have always governed themselves. If the thing called "government" can leave them alone, they are always willing to let the government alone. Give the people ten years of anarchy, when the word "government" will never be heard, and they will live peacefully together, they will prosper, they will cultivate deserts and turn them into orchards, they will make wares